Generally speaking, if you are interested in purchasing a single 25m or 50m electric net then you are probably a backyard chicken keeper with a small number of chickens. For the purposes of this article I am going to assume that you have a maximum flock size of about 20 birds and you have a chicken coop inside the electric netting enclosure where the chickens sleep at night.
First I need to understand your requirements in terms of how long the fence needs to be operational. If you need the fence to run at night to keep the foxes away and your chicken coop is not fox proof then I am going to term you a “24 hour” operator. If you only use the netting as a daytime fencing option and the chickens are securely locked away at night (and you therefore turn the fence off at night) I am going to term you a “daytime” operator.
So now that we know how many hours per day the fence needs to run we have are two basic questions we need to answer. Where is your property located and how much power do you need from your energiser?
If you live in Tasmania or Victoria then I consider you a “Southern” Australian, Queensland and NT etc are “Northern” Australians. The rest of Australia fits somewhere in the middle. Not very scientific but you get the picture.
Now how does all of the above relate to a 25m or 50m netting requiremment?
The good news is that you do not require a lot of power to charge a 25 or 50m net. Generally speaking a 50m net requires 0.25J as a minimum and most energisers do that quite easily. A 25m net requires less. If you intend to increase your flock and therefore increase the number of nets you need in the future then the best plan would be to purchase an energiser which has the capacity to manage your future requirements. For example, if you intend to purchase a 50m net now, but you intend to be using 100m of netting in six months time then purchase an energiser suitable for 100m of netting so that you don’t need to double up on energisers in the future. You can read more about 100m electric netting energiser requirements here.
A quick note on energiser capacity – energisers are measured in “Output Joules” (J). A 25m net requires an energiser with a minimum of 0.15J, 50m around 0.25J etc. You can always put more power than you need into an electric net but you cannot put less. Another way of looking at this would be to say – regardless of where you live or what your expectations are, the power level you require remains the same, what changes is the size of the battery, the means to recharge that battery, and the moisture content of the soil.
Watch this video for an explanation of why Output Joules is the best way to compare energisers or else read on below.
Energiser options for “24 hour” Operators in Southern Australia
The biggest issue if you live in Southern Australia and the fence needs to run for 24 hours a day is insufficient battery life. You will need to have a battery that can power the fence for long periods of time between recharging and a solar cell of sufficient wattage to charge the battery all year round – especially during the winter months. For example, if you live in an area that gets about 4 hours of Sunshine per day in June (primarily VIC and TAS) then you will need an absolute minimum of a 10W solar cell to get a 0.25J energiser powering a 50m electric net through the winter.
The big issue with the JVA SV2 is that it doesn’t have a mains back up option if the battery does go flat and the battery / solar cell combination is insufficient to get you reliably through winter. The Sunrise SRS6 does sufficient power and does have a mains recharger for winter, but has a significantly shorter warranty (6 months vs 2-3 years) so is probably fine if you only need the energiser for a few seasons but not for longer. Nemtek energisers are significantly more advanced having a lithium battery and a better solar cell but lack the mains recharger. And the Hotline HLS34 has a good battery, a large solar cell and a mains recharger. The Thunderbird S30B has a mains recharger, but has a smaller solar cell and less output than the HLS34.
So my recommendation for Southern 24-hour operators would be the Hotline HLS34.
Energiser options for “24 hour” Operators in Northern Australia
If you live in an area that gets more than 6 hours of sunshine per day in June (roughly north of the line from Coffs Harbour to Geraldton) then you can reduce either your solar cell or your battery but not both. You will need the same size energiser however as you are still powering the same length net. The sensible thing here would be to reduce the size of the solar cell and keep the same size battery.
This means that all of the energisers mentioned in this post will work fine, and the ones that do not have a mains recharger are now back in the game. I like the Nemtek Agrisolar 3 energiser with the lithium battery, but also now the JVA SV2 will have sufficient power to run all year round. The issue of “how big” you go depends on soil moisture and future upgrade potential. So for example, a 50m net in Northern Australia near the coast would be OK with any of these energisers. Further inland with a drier climate, I’d be tempted to go for the Nemtek or the Hotline.
Energiser options for “Daytime Operators” in Southern Australia and Northern Australia
For the purposes of this article I am going to assume that a “Daytime Operator” only uses the net in the warmer months of the year (say September through to April) or locks their flock indoors at night and turns off the energiser.
The big advantage that “Daytime Operators” are going to have over the “24 hour” crew is that the hobby operator can turn off the energiser at night during the winter months which effectively doubles battery capacity.
You are still going to require an energiser with an output over 0.25J, which means you can look at any of the energisers listed in the appropriate kits.
What I am going to do here is list all of the aforementioned energisers and rank them in terms of how they would fit in the 25m to 50m electric netting sizes. I will rank firstly by capacity, taking note of the solar cell and battery capacities and then price. All prices below are RRP – if you want a quote for a specific net / energiser combination please look at the listings in our online store or call us for detials.
JVA SV2. Output 0.15J, Solar cell 2W, Battery 7.2Ah. 3 year warranty. Sufficient output and battery size to power a 25m net but not more. Also let down by a 2W solar cell. This energiser is good for someone living in Northern Australia all year round or Southern Australia during the warmer months only. It does not have a mains battery back up so you are 100% reliant on sufficient solar power. RRP $247.
Thunderbird S30B. Output 0.17J, Solar cell 6W, 2 year warranty. Sufficient output and battery size to power a 25m net (or possibly a 50m goat net) but not more. Has a reasonable size solar cell. This energiser is good for someone living in Northern Australia all year round or Southern Australia during the warmer months only. It does have a mains battery back up so you can recharge from the mains in periods of poor weather. RRP $362.
Sunrise SRS6. Output 0.6J, Solar cell 6W, Battery 6Ah (lithium). 6 mont warranty. A good amount of kick and can power a 50m net quite effectively and has the capacity to power 100m of netting. Has a small battery (although it is lithium so should be better than lead-acid) and has a 6W solar cell which is good compared to the competition. Does come with a back-up mains charger which also makes it good at this price point. A good cheap imported option with the mains back up charger able to assist during the winter months to keep the charge flowing. Let down by only a 6 month warranty but a good option for short term requirements. RRP$299.
Hotline HLS34. Output 0.25J, Solar cell 12W, Battery 7Ah. 3 year warranty. Sufficient output and battery size to power up to 50m of netting. Due to the large solar cell, adequate battery and mains recharger, this energiser is good for all regions of Australia all year round. RRP $379.
Nemtek Agrisolar 3. Output 0.26J, Solar cell 5W, Battery lithium. 2 year warranty. Sufficient output and battery size to power either 25m or 50m of netting. This energiser is good for someone living in Northern Australia all year round or Southern Australia during the warmer months only. It does not have a mains battery back up so you are 100% reliant on sufficient solar power, however it is the only one in this class with a lithium battery which will last much longer than lead-acid batteries.. RRP $396.
- Don’t just choose the biggest! An energiser with twice the output will also drain the battery twice as fast. So if your fencing set up requires 0.5J in order to function, choosing an energiser with an output of 1.0J to 2.5J might make sense but 5J is a bit silly.
- JVA and Thunderbird are made in Australia, Nemtek in South Africa, Hotline in Britain and Sunrise in China.